Up until now, most MMORPGs with any sort of decent PvP system have taken the route of allowing factions to control buildings, castles, or points of interest. While the system works to some extent, it is at its core, broken.
One of the key measurements economists look at when ranking countries of the world for the best places to live, and do business in, is property ownership rights. Report after report, it remains true today, as it did 50 years ago; the countries that give the citizens the most property ownership rights, are the best countries to do business in. Below, I posted the chart from the International Property Rights Index of 2011. Even without any other statistics, you can easily see that the countries in the top 20% are most likely the places you want to live in, and the countries in the bottom 20% are the countries you probably would never even want to visit.
So what do property rights have to do with MMORPGs and PvP? Simple: most MMO games today do not give players or guilds any meaningful property to claim and maintain. This creates a system of disconnect where individual players do not have any direct stake in control points their faction holds, so in turn they do not help attack or defend them when needed. Because of this system, developers have to entice players to participate by offering special PvP gear and items; which in-turn creates a PvP grind system where players are not defending and attacking control points because they are meaningful, but simply to gather points and rewards.
While many games do offer guild or player housing, these are merely “storage units” that offer some cosmetic mini-game for players or guilds that want to make their housing look nicer. They do not provide any sort of meaningful addition to the player or guild, and cannot be attacked by others. They are simply “storage units”.
What developers need to realize is that ownership rights, in of itself, breeds competition, PvP and the reason to participate; all in one. If control points offered some resource to the guild, that would be all you need for guilds to go to war with each other. Guilds would control and hold these points themselves, build up their outposts to help protect their resources, and organize attacks to expand their territory.
Remember how many times you ignored that alert message saying your faction’s control point was currently under attack? Would you have if your guild controlled it? I’m betting no. When players don’t have a direct stake in control points, there is always an excuse to ignore. Someone else will go; I’m too far away; I’m in the middle of a quest. If losing that point meant your guild would lose a massive amount of money, that would directly effect you. I don’t care if you were two hours into a three hour raid, you’re entire guild would stop and get back asap.
Property ownership rights are key to creating a self-sustaining PvP system. Eve Online got it right years ago, so why does everyone else continue to ignore it? It’s absolutely baffling to me.